A very Sola Panel survey (Sandy Grant)

One of the things we’re doing as we wrap up the year here at Sola Panel is to ask our contributors to share some of their highlights for the year from the world of reading and the web. Here’s Sandy Grant’s contribution:

  1. Three best Christian books of 2009:
    • Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns (see my comments)
    • John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine and Doxology, edited by Burk Parsons (Reformation Trust 2008): great for preparing some lectures and sermons for the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth
    • Portrait of Calvin by THL Parker (1954). Download the 2009 version as a PDF from Desiring God (less than 130 pages). I wish I’d found this before preparing the talks above!
  2. Top stretching theological read of the year:
    • Words of Life: Scripture as the living and active word of God by Timothy Ward (IVP 2009). As Kevin DeYoung writes,

      A terrific treatise on the doctrine of Scripture from a Reformed and evangelical perspective. The first few chapters on God, human words, divine words, and the Word made flesh were especially helpful. Only question mark: affirms inerrancy, but downplays its significance.

      I would add that Ward makes covenant primary over promise as a key category for understanding the speech act dimension of Scripture, whereas I would probably express it the other way, with promise in the foreground. But that’s really just technicalities.

  3. Best fiction of 2009:
    • I love crime fiction, and devour it in my holidays, thanks to a great local library. Here are some of my current favourite crime fiction authors: Garry Disher, Peter Corris, Graham Hurley, Barry Maitland, John Harvey, and Giles Blunt.
  4. Best non-theological nonfiction of 2009:
    • See below for book of the year: Born to Run.
  5. Favourite Matthias Media release of the year:
    • The Trellis and the Vine: The ministry mind-shift that changes everything by Col Marshall and Tony Payne (AUS | US). Check out the endorsements from Justin Taylor (“A book every pastor and elder should seriously consider reading”), Tim Chester and Kevin DeYoung.
  6. Best website(s) discovered this past year:
    • Kevin DeYoung, a restless but reformed university church pastor from Michigan who often makes good sense and who knows he’s still young, so he stays pretty humble.
    • JC Ryle Quotes, which sends you a pithy quote from the great Anglican leader Monday to Friday. My wife is often encouraged by his incisive biblical thinking, which is still relevant today.
    • What’s Best Next: Matt Perman is Desiring God’s Director of Strategy, but blogs about productivity and leadership with plenty of good stuff. (I just ignore the American politics.) I still struggle to put ‘How to get your in-box to zero every day’ into practice!
  7. Three best sermons or other audio downloads heard this year (individual talks or series; could be from preachers you hear locally, and not just the overseas heroes):
    • ‘The Calvin I never Knew’ by Frank James III, the inspiration for our own series of sermons and lectures at St Michael’s (iTunes link)
    • ‘A Shepherd and His Unregenerate’ Sheep by Matt Chandler, for the ‘Who wants the rose?’ illustration that deeply convicted me at the Desiring God 2009 Pastors’ Conference
    • ‘The Church and Evangelism’ by Mark Dever: his second talk at the Desiring God 2009 Pastors’ Conference (one of three), which stretches his listeners to give evangelism a place in our gatherings (even if we think it is not the primary purpose of the church)
    • And I know I can’t count this, but Paul Dale on one-to-one ministry. I heard him speak at an MTS training day, but this podcast covers similar material (MP3 file). Or read this interview with Paul in The Briefing.
  8. Most memorable article(s) you’ve read this year:
    • ‘The Points of The Points of Calvinism: Retrospect and Prospect’ by Kenneth J Stewart (download PDF): a great exploration of the TULIP mnemonic, showing both is connection and disconnection to the Synod of Dort
    • ‘Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-Level Counterinsurgency’ by Dr David Kilcullen, Lieutenant Colonel (ret.), Australian Army (thanks to Michael Kellahan for the tip; Kellahan’s article contains a link to the PDF of the Kilcullen’s article and explains relevance for mission)
    • ‘Does the Shoe Fit?’ by David Powlison: the first four pages really help readers to handle criticism
    • ‘Biblical Productivity’ by CJ Mahaney. The PDF is a bit repetitive because it is taken from a series of blog posts. But it’s full of a mix of biblical wisdom and practical suggestions, along with a great quote from Alexander MacLaren that helped me stop procrastinating on some hard tasks this year!
  9. Book of the year and why:
    • Born to Run by Chris McDougall: This is possibly the only non-theological nonfiction book ever to keep me reading late at night! It’s part sports journalism, part adventure travel writing, part sports science, part biological anthropology. As a runner, I found this absolutely fascinating, and couldn’t help raving about it to the great bunch of blokes I run with on Saturday mornings at 6:30 am (before we fail to solve the problems of the world over a coffee at the North Beach Kiosk, North Wollongong Beach).

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